Guest post by our good friend Tildama"Sarah Palin Stopper"
- an hour spent with Joe McGinniss and Annabel Crabb
at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
The Sydney Theatre at The Rocks in Sydney apparently seats 896 people, and I didn't see one single vacant seat - in fact, I saw staff members squeezing in extra seats on two of the upper dress circles. Sadly, I was seated up in the nose bleeds right at the back, but fortunately I could still hear everything being said very clearly.
The format for the hour-long session was more like an informal chat between McGinniss and Annabel Crabb, a journalist who works at the ABC in Sydney. Crabb confessed from the outset that Palin described McGinniss as her stalker, while she (Crabb) on the other hand, was most definitely McGinniss’s stalker. She recounted that when visiting the US last year, she wore McGinniss down with her repeated requests for an interview, so eventually McGinniss said that if she was ever in the Connecticut region, to come and have lunch with him. On being told this, she immediately drove the entire breadth of the country and landed on his doorstep ready to take him up on his invitation for lunch.
The two talked, firstly, about M's previous work and the trouble he has encountered while writing and researching. Over the years, he had experienced difficulties with the Kennedy family, the Mafia, criminal and political figures and of course, the Palin family. They joked about how trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, and he explained that establishing the truth can cause problems, but he said he always maintains his focus and is never intimidated by those who would want to stand in his way.
McGinniss then went on to explain the famous incident that took place in Wasilla when Joe and the “First Dude” t-shirt wearing Todd Palin came face to face. He explained he had encountered far more fearsome opponents in the past than “little” Todd Palin - who is only about “this big." The audience laughed uproariously!
The audience was given an insight into the kind of fear that exists in Alaska - the kind of fear that stifles and paralyses a community, so they remain silent. The three examples he gave were of an oil executive who lost his job three weeks after talking to him, of a female judge who invited 15 female friends to dinner to talk to him about Sarah but only 3 ended up coming. And thirdly, the story of the person who would have loved to talk but had a relative who had applied for a scholarship to the University of Alaska and was too afraid should he speak to McGinniss, he could jeopardise this young person’s prospects of gaining that scholarship. For me, this was the first time I actually managed to get a feel for the toxic atmosphere Palin and her cronies have created in that state.
Thankfully, no topic was off-limits in this discussion. Crabb brought McGinniss around to the issue of Trigg’s birth. Although McGinniss says he is unable to say for certain whether or not Sarah gave birth to this child, he recounted the “Wild Ride” theory in every detail and concluded that, if in fact she was the birth mother, she is one hellishly reckless “mother." As he described each detail of the “Wild Ride” sequence of events, with the revelation of each new detail, the laughter became louder and louder. So by the end of the story, when he came to the part where she took an hour and a half drive from Anchorage to a basic and ill-equipped Wasilla hospital, the audience was in stitches! The audience left no doubt they believed not one syllable of the story – not one.
I can’t explain how very therapeutic it was to hear this laughter – to hear Palin finally become a laughing stock – a subject of derision . . . . Oh, it felt soooo good! In fact, so often the mere mention of Palin’s name made 900 Aussies laugh out loud. It was obvious that many there in that theatre had a very good understanding of Palin propaganda and could see through the smoke and mirrors – they weren’t taking what she’s serving, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately the hour with Joe McGinniss had flown by so fast, so there was only time for two very quick questions from the audience. The first question asked was about the role the media played in this whole Palin farce. McGinniss felt that there was a lack of curiosity, because for the most part they were star struck by the “sexy librarian” image she was pushing. He considered journalists and media outlets had a vested interest in keeping her front and centre because of the revenue she generated for them. Palin was the cash cow that everyone wanted to hang on to. His opinion is that the media in the US, is celebrity driven, as opposed to exposing what is happening in reality.
The second (and last) question had several parts, one part asking whether he thought Murdoch would go down in the US but sadly he didn’t have time to answer that one. However he did answer another part of the question, asking his thoughts on the election and he said he felt Obama would win the election this year, to loud cheers and clapping from the audience.
As I said before, I was pleasantly surprised with how much the audience knew about Palin (but it shouldn’t really surprise me actually, seeing we have had her shoved down our throats on television and newspapers now for the last four years) and the demographics represented. There was a huge cross section of young to older members of society and everything in between – an eclectic crowd you could say, but all of them filing out with smiles on their faces at the end of the session. McGinniss charmed the crowd with his wit, intellect, openness and honesty. He didn’t come across as pompous or show any signs of being affected at all which was very refreshing.
I stuck around waiting for McGinniss to go into the book signing room, but by the time I went to line up, the queue was so very long and not moving. So I made a decision to go and make my way to the railway station to take the train home (an hour and a half journey) to my sick bed instead, sorry everyone. It was an opportunity missed I know, but at that moment getting home was more important to me.
Joe McGinniss was interviewed in Sydney by the "Sydney Writers' Centre":